Iraqi forces make headway towards Mosul, liberating 48 villages
Soldiers from Iraq's 16th Division retook a series of villages north of Mosul, while pro-government paramilitary forces said they captured villages southwest of the city. (AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)
Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces have managed to liberate 46 villages west and south-west of Mosul as part of an operation to dislodge Daesh from the northern city, an official told dpa on Wednesday.
The forces liberated an area up to 590 square kilometres, destroyed 20 car bombs and killed dozens of Daesh militants while others ran away, Ahmmed Al-Asady, a parliamentarian and the official spokesman of the Shiite paramilitary group, added.
In another development, joint Iraqi army and police forces and other allied groups started an operation in the southern axis near Hammam al-Alil, 20 kilometres south of Mosul.
"After we liberate of Hammam al-Alil and the towns and villages linked to it, the forces will storm the districts south of Mosul then enter the city from the right bank to the west of the Tigris river,” Colonel Ahmmed al-Jabouri said.
On October 17, government forces, Kurdish troops and Sunni and Shiite fighters, backed by US-led airpower, started a long-awaited campaign to liberate Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.
Mosul, which is located in Nineveh province, is the largest city controlled by the Sunni extremist group, with a population of more than 2 million before the conflict.
The battle is expected to be decisive in Iraq's fight against Daesh, which Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has vowed will be driven out of the country this year.
Daesh overran Mosul in mid-2014 at the beginning of a lightning offensive that saw it seize swathes of Sunni Arab northern and western Iraq as Iraqi army and police units collapsed in the face of its onslaught.
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